Long-term smokers who switched to vaping were halfway towards achieving the vascular health of a non-smoker within a month, a Scottish study has found.
Researchers from the University of Dundee said they discovered a “clear early benefit” in switching from smoking to vaping. The findings came in the largest clinical trial to date.
Those who ditched cigarettes and vaped instead saw their blood vessel function increase by around 1.5 percentage points within four weeks compared to those who continued smoking.
The researchers said they did not know whether this benefit would be sustained, with more research needed into the long-term implications of vaping.
And they warned that vaping is not safe, merely “less harmful” than smoking. But they said if this improvement was sustained into the long term, those who switched would have at least a 13 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks.
The VESUVIUS study recruited 114 adult UK smokers who had smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day for at least two years and were free from established cardiovascular disease.
Forty patients continued smoking tobacco cigarettes, 37 switched to e-cigarettes with nicotine and 37 switched to e-cigarettes without.
The researchers measured changes in blood vessel function – the earliest detectable change to cardiovascular health – through a test known as flow mediated dilation (FMD). This measures how far a blood vessel opens and they used another test to measure the stiffness of the blood vessels.
Overall, the groups who gave up for e-cigarettes experienced a 1.49 percentage point improvement in their vascular function compared to those who continued smoking.
Separate meta-analysis has shown that for every 1 per cent improvement in vascular health, 13 per cent fewer cardiovascular events occur over the long term.
Chronic smokers who switched to vaping with nicotine saw their FMD increase by about a fifth at the end of the month. This means that, within a month, the new vapers were around halfway towards achieving the FMD of a healthy non-smoker.
Professor Jacob George, who led the study, said conflicting safety advice from public health bodies had led to confusion for the public and policymakers. He said: “It is crucial to emphasise that e-cigarettes are not safe, just less harmful than tobacco cigarettes when it comes to vascular health.”